By Haydar Hadi
Calling Monday’s controversial referendum on Kurdish regional independence a "unilateral" decision, Iraq’s central government Sunday asked the regional government to hand over all border gates and airports to Baghdad, and moved to control its oil flow.
The remarks came in a statement read out after a National Security Council meeting on state-run Iraqiye TV.
"The referendum is a unilateral step and brings events to a crisis. Iraq’s government asks the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to hand over all border gates and airports to Baghdad and demands neighboring countries only contact Baghdad on oil and border issues."
According to the statement, Baghdad “rejects any dialogue with Erbil after the referendum, as it is not constitutional.”
Iraq’s central government “has full authority over all territories of the country and on issues regarding the interests of the Iraqi people, including Kurdish citizens,” It added.
Slated to be held on Monday, the non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad -- vote on whether or not to declare independence.
Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran, and the UN have all spoken out against the referendum, saying it would distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
Iraq’s central government has even threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
KRG leader Massoud Barzani, for his part, has said that a victory for the Yes vote would not initiate an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.